Millions tune in to the Oscars each year to decide which designer attire they like best, hear winning speeches and ultimately see who nabs the most coveted award, “Best Picture.” This annual event shines an even brighter light on celebrities and shapes our perceptions of who’s best in entertainment. However, celebs have a big influence on many aspects of our culture, beyond just entertainment. Many also look to them for their advice on food, health and nutrition.
Studies reveal how celebrities can influence people’s medical choices for good and bad.
When you have an elevated platform and large following, people listen. Unfortunately, much of the health and nutrition advice from celebs is not scientifically-sound. This poses challenge for consumers who are already bombarded with a flood of food misinformation.
In the spirit of awards season, we want to remind people that celebs are the experts in entertainment, but these are the stars you should pay attention to when it comes to food and nutrition.
And the nominees are…
Best in Fighting Food-Fearmongering
Fearmongering and misinformation are at an all-time high. Now you can buy non-GMO grapefruit juice and non-GMO tomatoes (without the fish genes). Never mind the fact that a grapefruit doesn’t have a GMO counterpart or that there are no GMO tomatoes on the market. And fish genes don’t exist in any GMO crops.
Fortunately, many scientists, informed consumers and health experts have pledged to fight this heightened prevalence of misinformation with facts.
People care about how their food is grown and raised — and labels are often what helps guide their decision. But many exploit consumer knowledge gaps, creating more confusion than clarity.
Concerns over the safety of GMOs and sustainable farming practices have been long-debated topics in mainstream media and now in the grocery store. However, an esteemed panel of scientists, researchers and agricultural experts reviewed over 20 years of data and concluded that GMOs are safe to eat. And more than 18 million farmers around the world, the majority in developing countries, choose to plant genetically modified seeds due to their advantages, which can include reducing the impact of agriculture on their environment.
Understanding the science behind GMOs and knowing the facts is crucial now more than ever. Those fighting fearmongering are leading the charge — helping consumers make informed decisions based on science, not fear.
With changing climates and a growing population, food security and sustainability have become some of today’s most pressing global issues. Scientists and researchers have made strides using biotechnology, specifically GMOs, to help farmers save crops and grow more with less.
Cutting-edge research is being done in East Africa to find a solution to Banana Xanthomonas Wilt, a disease devastating the banana, one of the region’s staple crops.
“Golden Rice,” which is under development at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), is a nutritionally enhanced crop that could help fight the leading cause of childhood blindness in the developing world. Currently, IRRI, working with national research organizations in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Philippines, has been conducting field trials and analyzing data in preparation for product approval applications. These are just a few examples of instances where biotech is helping us solve major food issues around the world.
Consumer Choice Award: Most Bogus GMO Myth
GMO salt and GMO water myths are close runners-up but the myth that took home the trophy goes to the age-old GMO tomato myth that resurfaced in a Stonyfield Farm video advertisement. The ad featured school-aged kids perpetuating myths, like, “They take a gene from a fish and they put it into the tomato.”
The swift backlash following this ad was widespread. Within hours, the agriculture and scientific community condemned the brand for spreading misinformation and fearmongering.
When it comes to understanding how our food is grown, it’s important to look at the facts and rely on the people using science to improve the world around us. GMOs are one tool in the modern farmer’s tool box that allows us to grow more with less and fight malnutrition around the world. So the next time you hear a celeb spout out nutrition advice — remember to fact check, and consider the actual experts.